For Keeps definitely was better for me compared to the the first book.
Merry and T.J. spent quite a lot of time together (compared to Cara and Matt) while she was helping him with the summer camp -- thus I could easily see the progress of them falling for each other. There was no 'deadline' on their relationship. The issues that both Merry and T.J. had to deal with were more of their inner conflicts. Merry had a heartbreaking background story -- she lost her baby when he was only two-months-old because of SIDS, and she was worried that she couldn't be a good mother because of it -- while T.J. needed to stop thinking about his 'ideal' type of woman that could be with him to taking care of the ranch.
I loved both Merry and T.J. as characters. Both were really good with animals and children -- well, Merry was slightly better since she was also a pediatric nurse, so she knew how to speak and connect to T.J.'s autistic nephew. However, T.J. was also a wonderful uncle, and he only wanted the best for Noah, that I just couldn't stop myself from swooning every time.
As in with book #1, the animals scenes here were top-notch!! Not only shelter/rescue dogs this time, but it also have horses!! Not to mention the whole camp scenes, where the kids were learning how to work with the dogs. I loved ALL the dogs, Ralph, Amber, Chip, and Salsa -- with their different attitudes... This was a compelling for me indeed.
There will be one book left in the series -- and it's about the animal activist Olivia. Couldn't wait to see how the trouble she will be in and how she deals with law enforcement ^^